Major Update: The Summer Meals Texting Hotline Number is CHANGING!
No Kid Hungry’s summer hotline texting hotline has a new number. Text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304 during the summer months to find a site near you with free meals for kids. The 304-304 number replaces the former hotline number, 877-877, which was used and advertised for many years.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Pre-pandemic, about 60 percent of NC’s public school children qualified for free or reduced-price school meals. The number of families and children in need of food assistance has grown during the pandemic.
Many kids rely on school meals for their nutrition. So, when school lets out for the summer, schools, churches, community organizations, state agencies, and others team up to provide thousands of meal sites across the state where kids can eat for free.
The 304-304 summer texting hotline provides an easy way for anyone to find the site with meals for kids closest to them when school is out from June to August. The same hotline was also used throughout 2020, when the Summer Nutrition Programs were activated to serve in an emergency capacity during COVID-19 school closures. The NC Department of Public Instruction provides data collected from meal sponsors to update the texting hotline regularly.
North Carolinians have used the summer texting hotline more than 70,000 times since 2015. During COVID-19 school closures in 2020, NC was the second-most active state on the hotline.
WILL THE OLD NUMBER STILL WORK?
Short answer: No.
For a limited time, to help with this transition, if an individual texts FOOD or COMIDA to the old 877-877 number, they will receive a redirect message to the new 304-304 number. We cannot guarantee how long the 877-877 number will remain active, and there are no plans for the old 877-877 number to automatically forward users to the new 304-304 number.
ARE MARKETING MATERIALS AVAILABLE FOR THE NEW NUMBER?
No Kid Hungry’s customizable summer meals outreach toolkit has been updated with the new number. It includes online graphics, social media posts, printable flyers, template letters, and more. Find it here.
Please share this information with the other schools, agencies, or organizations in your community which promote summer meal sites and may have used this texting number in the past.
Additional digital materials and free designs for physical materials featuring the new number are on the way. Stay tuned to communications from No Kid Hungry NC, and to the new NC Summer Meals site (SummerMeals4NCKids.org), for more information.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH OLD MATERIALS?
If you have materials featuring the old 877-877 number,don’t get rid of them yet! They can likely be updated with a sticker or other change to add the new 304-304 number.
Carolina Hunger Initiative and No Kid Hungry NC are exploring ways to help bring new and updated promotional materials with the 304-304 number to meal sponsors in NC.
Keep an eye out for more info to come about how you can help us spread the word about the texting hotline and the Summer Nutrition Programs in general!